M.S. 61 Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell

400 EMPIRE BOULEVARD
BROOKLYN NY 11225 Map
Phone: (718) 774-1002
Website: Click here
Admissions: neighborhood school/selective program
Principal: Shannon Burton
Neighborhood: Crown Heights
District: 17
Grade range: 6-8
Parent Coordinator: Ailene Thompson
Zoned
Wheelchair Accessible
Screened

What's special:

The school has a successful gifted program and is well regarded by its community.

The downside:

Limited arts and music

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

At 8:15 each morning, students file in to MS 61's back door to the tune of Whitney Houston singing "I believe the children are the future…"

Principal Sandra Taylor, who has been at the school since 2008, says she plays the song not only to boost student morale but also to remind staff that they come to work each day to empower the students. The administration's and staff's commitment to MS 61 students is evident: MS 61 enjoys a solid reputation in the neighborhood and is the last large middle school in district.

Taylor worked for years as a teacher at PS 399, a feeder school for MS 61, then as an assistant principal. MS 61 is a neighborhood school, and Taylor's former students sometimes have children of their own in the school. She is no-nonsense with her middle schoolers. She often patrols the hallways to encourage order. Taylor does not tolerate ear-buds or gum-chewing and all students must wear the required uniforms.

But the principal also has a softer side. She likes to have fun with the kids when appropriate. Her office is teeming with books and open to all students. Taylor even hosts dances and monthly birthday parties for students and teachers and tea parties for the parents. Shaquana, a 6th grader who hopes to be a principal herself someday, called Taylor "the party principal."

MS 61 offers a large number of high school-level Regents courses: Spanish, algebra, US government and history, geometry and living environment. One downside is that there is no regularly scheduled art or music instruction, which Taylor attributes to budget cuts. There is a flourishing after-school program with many options including theatre, dance and arts programs. And, like other large schools, MS 61 students can participate in a variety of after-school sports ranging from boys and girls soccer and basketball teams to fencing and double-dutch.

The school is divided into three academies, each with its own floor. The Britou-Moore Academy for gifted and talented students shines brightly. The quality of work displayed on the walls is impressive and Britou-Moore students were engaged in their classes, polite and eager to learn. Taylor says she has tripled the size of the Britou-Moore Academy to over 500 6th through 8th graders and added accelerated classes to the other two academies.

Students in the Apex and World Leadership Academies were engaged in class but didn't show the same level of enthusiasm as their peers in Britou-Moore. They were generally well behaved, especially in the presence of an authority figure.

All of the school's eighth graders take the specialized high school exam and may also flex their test muscles by taking the SAT. Students who score well on the SAT may qualify to become Johns Hopkins Scholars and treated to special college-readiness programs.

We saw many parents at the school during our tour. The parent coordinator, Ailene Mitchell, helps arrange parent-child book clubs. Though most parents offered praise to the school and administration, one parent complained that teachers were inaccessible, an issue that students also reported in the 2011 Learning Environment Survey. Thirty percent of MS 61 students surveyed said they had issues with respect and with fights and bullying that year. During our tour, we did see minor roughhousing, hear a few raised voices and notice some litter around the school. But, overall, we felt comfortable and welcome at MS 61.

Special education: There are seven collaboratively taught classes and three self-contained classes. Classes for English Language Learners include a Haitian-Creole program and some ELLs are pushed into regular classes.

Admissions: MS 61 is for District 17 students only. The school has three times as many applicants as seats and zoned children get preference. Admission to Britou-Moore Academy based on 4th grade test scores. Contact the school for tour dates. (Anna Schneider, January 2012)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 779

Average Daily Attendance 92%

Uniforms? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
1%

Black

  
89%

Hispanic

  
9%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
100%

Special ed

  
12%

English Language Learners

  
6%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.64 2.60 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

64% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say this school offers enough programs to keep them interested?

89% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE KIDS NICE?

How many students complain about bullying?

83% 71% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students say students at their school respect one another?

41% 57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

88% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

79% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

96% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

26 26 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students are chronically absent?

22% 24% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

11% 26% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

18% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

43% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HS Prep

How many 8th graders pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

28% 18% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

17% 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How do graduates do in 9th grade?

Percent who pass all their classes freshman year:

90% 87% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 1% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

5% 7% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

2% 5% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

5% 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

5% 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

11% 13% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Comments

Please post comments

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't)
  • No profanity. No racial or ethnic slurs. No personal attacks
  • Criticism is fine but don't be nasty.
  • Flag inappropriate comments. (Hover your cursor over comments to see flag)